Fourth time's a charm? Driskell hopes to finish out on high note

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The SIU-bound senior will bid to become Central's first individual state champion.

Central has never had an individual state champion in the boys golf program's long history.

Central senior Blake Driskell will have one last chance to make history Monday at Deer Lake Golf Course in Springfield, Mo.

"I think you have to go out every tournament thinking you can win," Driskell said. "If not, I really don't think that you should be there. I try not to think about it too much, but it could happen."

Driskell placed 27th in last year's tourney at Silo Ridge in Bolivar, Mo., which was his third state tournament appearance.

Like last year, he heads into the state as a district champion and should be among the state title contenders. Driskell shot a 3-under-par 68 at Westwood Hills Country Club on May 1 to grab a share of the district title.

Driskell admits that early in his high school career he was trying too hard, but this season everything has come together.

"This year has been a totally different year for me," Driskell said. "I tried too hard in the past. Now I just go out and play."

Driskell finished with a nine-hole average of 35, including a round of 4-under-par 31 in one match at Cape Girardeau Country Club, the Tigers' home course. Driskell's highest nine-hole score was a 38.

"He's got the lowest scoring average of anyone I've had in all these years," said Central coach Dick Wadlington, in his 30th year as Tigers coach. "I've been around a long time, and I know how difficult it is to play spring golf. Thirty-eight has been his highest score of the year and 31 has been his lowest. You kind of expect him to do well. He's been very consistent."

Uneven state tournaments have plagued Driskell the past two years. He shot an opening-round 75 last year but followed with an 80 on day two. The previous year Driskell shot 74-83.

"That was so disappointing last year," Driskell said. "I had a chance to do something. I've been in a lot of big tournaments, but I don't think I've ever been more disappointed in myself."

While anything can happen at the state tournament, Driskell's consistency this season should allow him to stay in the mix.

"The one thing that really makes me happy is how bad my bad days have been, and still how consistent my scores have been," Driskell said. "I'm never out of it then. I don't put myself out of the picture."

Driskell's play has earned him a Division I scholarship at Southern Illinois University. He is the second Tigers golfer in recent years to earn a Division I scholarship, as Todd Obergoenner is currently on the Kentucky roster.

"It's exciting," Driskell said of going to SIU. "First of all, I'm close. I've already told the younger guys I'll come back and practice with them. My swing coach lives in Carbondale, so he's right there. He's a big part of me going there. I'm looking forward to it. I have a good opportunity to play Division I golf. It doesn't get much better than that."

Driskell state experience

2005: 75-80 (Silo Ridge in Bolivar)

2004: 74-83 (Rivercut Golf Course)

2003: 83-83 (Rivercut Golf Course)

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